Monday started with a full, 12 hours of running around taking care of patients. Our unit has been slammed since the end of August.
Tuesday, I did a home visit with one of my hospice patients to educate her on what a C/Section would entail. She had many questions so we reviewed information and she decided to 'think on it'. Then off to school I went.
Wednesday I had the joy of another 12 hours on the unit. Another busy day.
Thursday I had school. I received a call during class from Dr A. that one of my hospice patient's had a demise. Her baby had passed away inside of her, so we set about planning her care. I went off to my next class. I wasn't really understanding all of the chemistry nomenclatures and I really didn't care! All I could think about was my patient and what she was going through. I just wanted to get out of class so that I could talk to her.
Friday I had to work again and I knew that my patient would probably be coming in. Sure enough she did. I got to take care of her. It makes way more sense for me to care for these patients since I already know them from the outpatient side. It is easier for them to have someone who knows about them, knows what is wrong with their baby and has come to care for them. They trust me in a way that they may not trust someone else and they do not have to explain what is going on all over again to someone new. It was an emotionally draining day. Even though I deal with death and dying on a routine basis...it is just not 'normal' in a labor and delivery setting. It is never easy or routine to watch someone hurt at this level. It never gets routine to see a child's life cut so short. And in the case of my hospice patients...it hurts just a little more since I do already know them and their families. You sort of build this bond. It hurts to see that silent tear running down a mom's face as she knows the end is near. All one can really do is tenderly wipe the tear away and say, "I am so sorry. I know this really hurts". Then to get to the point of the delivery....the point where most parents are excited, the point where they finally get to see their baby and hear its cries. But for my patient on Friday...there were no smiles, only sobs as I told her it was time to push.
Often times my patients will express their fear of seeing their baby. Fear of the unknown. What will he / she look like?? Will they have defects? Will they know that I love them? Parents often imagine these defects to be way worse than what they really are. Often they will ask me to take the baby away to dry it off and wrap it up, covering anything they may not want to see. But really - most of them are beautiful, despite the things that are 'different' with them. I was so proud of my patient on Friday as she expressed her fears, then lovingly picked up her baby right after it was born and just hung on to him. She had conquered her fears. Her maternal love overtook any doubts and she told her baby how much she loved him. Again....all I could do was be there for them in their time of extreme pain and hold their hands and give hugs. Sometimes just 'being there' is more important than any words I can come up with. Nothing really helps, nothing can take that pain away. It is a path these parents have to walk down and I have the privilege of walking beside them for awhile.
Naturally after a day like that I go home exhausted. Love on my own family and think about this other family. Think about how their lives are going to be so different...
Got up Saturday morning to start my 2nd of 3 shifts in a row. UGH, the last place I want to go is back to the hospital. But, I did. Luckily, I got to take care of a cute couple with a healthy baby who had a wonderful birth with cries of joy at the end. Whew - what an oxymoron or play on my emotions - totally different experiences on the birth spectrum. I felt renewed.
Along comes Sunday...I decided that I am getting too old to work three in a row. I used to do this with no problems. But now as I encroach (cough, cough) on 50 my body doesn't do it as well. I awoke sore and achy but headed off to work anyways. I was in 'charge' today. Again it was busy - never had less than 10 patients on the unit at a time. We were making it work, getting through the day. At one point I had two nurses calling me to get their doctor for their deliveries when I answered a call light - only to hear that nurse say, "I need help in here, I have a cord prolapse". Cord prolapse - a medical emergency...the umbilical cord is coming out ahead of the baby. Oh great!! I thought....now what do I do?!?! The nurses on our unit are wonderful - pitching in to help whenever needed and working together. Due to this fact, we had 3 healthy babies within 15 minutes!! And one of those was an emergent C/Section. Makes me proud to work with them!!
Craziness! That's how my week has been...I'm starting to wonder if going away is worth it when I have to work so hard when I get back!!
Today I have written a paper for school,swept the endless dog hair off the floor, washed the dishes, started laundry and still need to run to the bank. I leave Wednesday for a conference in Wisconsin where I will be presenting our Comfort Care Program. I don't have to work on the unit anymore this week. I plan to relax in Milwaukee and read something besides a chemistry book!! I'm hoping that there is no more craziness to write about for a bit!